Keep it simple, stupid
I used to love this saying in business meetings. A bunch of us would be sitting around discussing something like a new sales process. With every contribution to the discussion, the process became ever more complex. And then someone would say "keep it simple stupid", or KISS for short. We would all suddenly realise that we were over complicating the process and that would lead to its downfall.
This principle can be applied directly to web design. Web designers and developers often have big egos. We want our design to be the hottest thing out there, or our functionality to win an award. But do the end users care? Do we even think about the end user when we get all excited about what we are doing? Probably not.
But the simple fact of the matter is, our websites are created for users, not for us or our colleagues. Users often want simple and effective websites. They do not want to bewildered with an array of options and stages. Nor do they care about the latest in web design. Simple, effective and to the point is all they ask for.
A brilliant example of this is Mobile Phones UK. This website is dedicated to reviewing mobile phone handsets. The design is very basic. The functionality is straight forward. All you can do is read a review of a mobile handset, post your own review and read other peoples reviews. But that is all it needs to do. It does what it says on the tin and nothing more. There is no confusion and no fuss. It is all about the content. They have kept it simple (stupid!). As a result, they have a very popular, successful website.